A two-year air-layer challenge – Bonsai Tonight

Two years in the past, I picked up a field-grown Korean hornbeam salvaged from the fireplace that struck Telperion Farms in 2020. The tree had a enjoyable trunk however there was room to enhance the roots so I began an air-layer.

After making the cut

After making the lower

I’d simply heard about an fascinating strategy to layering and wished to present it a strive. Moderately than clarify it, right here’s a photograph of the following step.

Fresh concrete

Contemporary concrete across the base of the trunk

The earlier yr, Nao Tokutake had given this strategy a attempt to claimed nice success with it. However why use concrete to make the layer?

One problem of ground-layering (air-layers at or close to floor degree) is that the previous roots can develop up into the brand new soil across the layer making it exhausting to inform which roots belong to the layer and which to the remainder of the tree. Through the use of a layer of concrete, you possibly can keep away from this downside by making a stable barrier between the brand new and previous roots.

After pouring the concrete, I added a layer of moss to protect additional moisture the place I hoped the brand new roots would develop.

 White sphagnum moss

White sphagnum moss

The final step was to fill the pot with recent soil.

Initial work complete

Preliminary work full

The one step I’d skipped was including root hormone across the lower. Nao didn’t bear in mind utilizing it and he had such good outcomes that he didn’t anticipate it was needed. I used to be curious so I attempted it that manner.

I’d began the layer in Could because it’s an important month to start out layers. The next winter, I took a have a look at the roots. As luck would have it, there have been only a few roots! The usual strategy on this case is to reopen the lower space (whereas preserving at the least among the new callus) and apply root hormone.

Root hormone around the cut site

Root hormone across the lower web site

I reapplied moss and soil and gave the tree one other yr to develop. It didn’t develop a lot, nevertheless it stayed wholesome. When the tree began to wake from dormancy in early April, I eliminated it from the pot.

New soil and old soil

New soil and previous soil

After chipping away on the previous roots for a couple of minutes, it turned clear why the tree hadn’t grown a lot – the tree had nearly no roots in any respect!

Healthy new roots above a few straggly old roots

Wholesome new roots above a couple of straggly previous roots
(Thanks for the assistance Steven!)

It hadn’t occurred to me once I began the layer in 2022 that the tree didn’t have many roots because it was wholesome and pushing new shoots, nevertheless it seems the tree was rising from its reserves and never from a wholesome root mass. I’m often extra conservative about getting timber wholesome earlier than beginning layers, however I used to be curious to strive a brand new method and figured the tree was sturdy sufficient to push new roots with or with out many roots. Understanding what I do know now concerning the course of, I’d nonetheless proceed with the layer, however I’d you should definitely use rooting hormones.

The subsequent step was to take away the large taproot with a reciprocating noticed. With the massive root gone, it was straightforward to see the concrete disc supporting the brand new roots.

Concrete collar around the cut taproot

Concrete collar across the lower taproot

I chipped away on the concrete with a two pound hammer and chisel to disclose a mat of effective roots.

After removing the concrete

After eradicating the concrete

New roots

New roots

I left the bottom of the taproot in the intervening time because it’ll assist the burden of the tree within the pot. I can take away it in a couple of years as soon as the brand new roots are higher established.

Right here’s the tree after repotting it in a plastic container.

Repotting complete

Repotting full

As a result of making an attempt a brand new method on only one tree isn’t a lot of an experiment, I made a decision to start out two on the similar time. The method, and outcomes, had been related.

The second layer

The second layer

A single new root

A single new root

After separating the layer one year later

After separating the layer one yr later

The roots had been way more coarse on the second tree – I’m undecided why – and pretty nicely distributed across the trunk.

New roots

New roots

Eradicating the previous roots on the second tree was a chore even with the assistance of the reciprocating noticed.

Old roots

Previous roots

Repotting complete

Repotting full

Though it might have been attainable to create bonsai with the unique roots on these timber, by layering them, I’ve way more choices when it’s time to search out the entrance of the timber, not to mention discover containers for them!

To assist the brand new roots get established, I’ll let the timber develop freely for a yr or two and can postpone repotting for 2 to a few years. Styling can start when the timber present indicators of vigor, presumably inside one or two years.

Pacific Bonsai Expo Updates

  • For everybody who submitted timber to this yr’s occasion, thanks! The jury members have an especially sturdy pool of candidates to pick out from which makes us excited to see what this yr’s present will appear like. We plan to inform everybody who submitted timber concerning the outcomes of the jury course of in June.
  • Ticket gross sales are coming – we’re engaged on a couple of extra back-end particulars and will likely be asserting ticket gross sales later this month or subsequent month. Extra information is coming quickly.
  • As soon as ticket gross sales are underway, we’ll put together an inventory of how in which you’ll be able to assist the occasion by turn out to be a sponsor, a donor, or a volunteer. Within the meantime, find out about what we’ve been engaged on on the Bonsai Wire Podcast.

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